There have been a number of times when posters have hinted that Buck's "obsession" with reducing pitchers' time to the plate with runners on base has been detrimental to our pitchers' performance. But does that claim withstand scrutiny?
In the AL, the average pitcher has a .251/.312/.414 opponents' slash line with the bases empty, .262/.330/.412 with runners on base, .264/.317/.418 with a runner on 1B only (which is when 75% of stolen bases occur).
For the Orioles, the figures are .252/.319/.433 with the bases empty, .267/.337/.432 with runners on base, .255/.318/.434 with a runner on 1B.
Here are the conclusions I'd draw from this data:
1. The Orioles' pitchers are below average regardless of the situation, and their biggest problem is allowing too many extra base hits (hence the very high opposing SLG in all situations). With the bases empty (where TTTP is clearly not an issue), the O's have a .752 OPSA compared to .726 for the league, with an OBP 7 points higher and an SLG 19 points higher than the league average in that situation. Nobody can blame that on TTTP.
2. In the most common running situation, runner on 1st base only, the Orioles do almost exactly as well as they do with the bases empty (.752 OPSA in both situations). The diferential for the league as a whole is a bit greater (9 OPS point higher with a runner on 1st than with the bases empty).
3. In all runners on base situations, the O's have an 18 point increase in opposing OBP and a 1 point decrease in opposing SLG. The league as a whole has an 18 point increase in OBP and a 2 point decrease in SLG. So, the differential for the O's is basically the league average.
In short, the evidence does not support the claim that Buck's "obsession" with TTTP hurts our pitchers. But what it undeniably does seem to do is help prevent stolen bases. The O's have allowed only 14 this year, lowest in the league and less than half the league average. And in the 3 years Buck has been the manager, stolen bases allowed per game has gone from .51 per game in 2011 to .39 per game in 2012 to .24 per game in 2013. And that can only help the pitchers.
By the way, I'd probably concede that there may be individual pitchers who do worse with the hitters when they are focusing too much on TTTP. But overall, I'd say that's their problem, not Buck's, since the group as a whole seems to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Agree, disagree? Talk about it here.
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